New for the 2019-20 season for Isles Blog, our Rob Taub each Monday will give you his thoughts on five important things to key on for that week’s games for the New York Islanders.
Former Islanders head coach Jack Capuano had a saying once: Pick your s*** up! He used it at a time back in March of 2016 when he wanted to see some of the players on his team elevate their game to a playoff level.
After the week the Isles just took part in — 0-1-2 with brutal losses to the Rangers, Blues and Bruins — leaving them dangling to one of the wild card spots in the Metro, this seems like the right time for that saying to ring true once again.
The confidence is low right now. The team’s scoring issues just can’t seem to figure themselves out. And they’re still missing one of their biggest pieces in Casey Cizikas; Cal Clutterbuck is playing once again, but Cizikas is still a week or so away. Until then, the Islanders need to find a way to dig themselves out of this rut they’ve been in.
It starts with their identity, which seems to have fallen to the wayside.
“We need more of that in our game,” head coach Barry Trotz told reporters after Saturday’s game. “We got a little bit light with the group that we had. We lost a little bit of our identity.”
With 18 games left in the season, this week is could be the perfect time for this beleaguered group to find that edge once again and get themselves rolling towards the postseason.
There are five things that can help them do that. They’re listed below:
The Isles were embarrassed on Saturday in front of their fans, and on Butch Goring’s jersey retirement day nonetheless. They looked like they didn’t belong on the same ice as the Bruins. That kind of effort — and the same can be said for how they performed in St. Louis — should hopefully light that spark. This team has been too soft for a long period of the season, and that’s not going to cut it at this time of the year and the playoffs. Someone needs to send a message, whether that’s Cluttberbuck, Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee, or even Johnny Boychuk.
Cal Clutterbuck effect.
Clutterbuck made his return to the lineup Saturday after being out since mid-January. The rust was there, but you could still see how valuable a player he is to that locker room. These next few games will hopefully see Clutterbuck back at full strength and the fourth line back to their old ways of grinding out opponents.
Michael Dal Colle’s spirited play.
The points might be hard to come by for Dal Colle, but he’s definitely picked up his pace. His speed is starting to flash more often, which wasn’t the case in the earlier months of the season. It’s weird to think, but maybe that hit Dal Colle received from the Rangers’ Jacob Trouba, might have shook the nervousness out of his game.
Not chasing the game.
It’s becoming easily apparent that as soon as the Islanders find themselves behind, they are playing on their heels. Sooner or later, they need to reverse the trend. Scoring first has been few and far between for the Islanders going back weeks now. They need to be the aggressor when it comes to who they will be playing this week.
Not taking bad teams for granted.
The Islanders will be facing two of the worst teams — Montreal and Ottawa — in the Eastern Conference Tuesday and Thursday. But they can’t overlook either one of them, as they are looking to play spoiler. The Isles have had their problems with lesser competition this season, something that has befuddled a lot of people especially after how they dominated bad teams a year ago.
Simply put, there can’t be any let up in the Isles’ game if they want to come away with all four points.